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Athena's Grilled Butterflied Leg of Lamb

Updated: May 13, 2023

Athena Peros shares her traditional Greek recipes for Grilled Butterflied Leg of Lamb, Roasted Root Vegetables with Green Beans, and Tzatziki (Yogurt Sauce).

Athena's Grilled Butterflied Leg of Lamb

Please note: This recipe may be prepared same day, but allowing two days to prepare is ideal.


  • One 5 pound boneless leg of lamb

  • 4 thinly slivered garlic cloves

  • 2 packages of fresh rosemary (for seasoning and garnish)

Marinade 1

  • 2 lemons

  • 2 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • ½ teaspoon pepper

Marinade 2

  • 1 lemon

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • 1 dash of pepper


  • Cutting board

  • Baster brush

  • Roasting pan or non-reactive pan (Do not use aluminum).

  • Large grilling tongs

  • Meat thermometer


Day 1: Prep

Prepare the first marinade by combining the juice of two lemons, olive oil, salt and pepper.

Remove the lamb from the mesh bag and butterfly (unroll) it. Wash the lamb. Dry it well and lay it flat on a cutting board.

There are two sides of the lamb- the fat side and the lean side.

Randomly pierce the lean side of the lamb, roughly 1 ½ inches deep. Open the holes with your finger, and push garlic into each hole.

Place the lamb in the roasting pan. Baste and rub the lean side of the lamb with half of the first marinade. Turn the lamb over (fat side up) and tuck a few rosemary sprigs underneath the lamb. Baste and rub the fat side of the lamb with the remaining first marinade. Insert a few rosemary sprigs underneath the fat layer. Place a few more rosemary sprigs on top of the fat. Cover with plastic. Refrigerate the lamb and allow it to marinate for 24 hours. (If you cook the lamb the same day, allow it to marinate for no less than 3 hours).

Day 2: Grill

Unwrap the lamb and pat dry.

Note: The upper part of the leg will be thicker than the rest. If it’s about 2 or 3 inches thick, that’s fine. If it’s thicker than that, use a rolling pin to roll and flatten it. Refrigerate for a half hour to help hold the shape.

Set the lamb at room temperate for one hour before grilling.

Make the second marinade by combining the juice of one lemon, one tablespoon of olive oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and a dash of pepper. Before grilling, marinate the lamb by using rosemary springs like a baster brush. This will enhance the aroma.

Preheat the grill to 400 degrees.

Sear the lamb fat side down for three minutes. Then turn the lamb, fat side up. The fat will baste the lamb. The lamb will be heavy, so be prepared with large tongs. Two sets of tongs may be needed.

Close the grill. Grill the lamb for approximately 40 minutes, monitoring the grill’s heat and checking the lamb frequently by slightly opening the grill. Grill fat side up for approximately half an hour, and fat side down for approximately 10 minutes.

Check the internal temperature of the lamb with a meat thermometer. The lamb should reach an internal temperature of 145 degrees (medium well). If the lamb hasn’t reached the desired internal temperature, pre-heat an oven to 400 degrees and roast the lamb for an additional 15-20 minutes.

Let the lamb rest. Garnish with fresh rosemary and serve.

Roasted Root Vegetables with Green Beans


  • Multi-colored carrots

  • Russet potatoes

  • Fresh green beans

  • Olive oil, Kosher salt, pepper


Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.

Chop the vegetables (see photos).

Place the root vegetables on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 15-20 minutes

Place the green beans on the baking sheet, drizzle with a bit more olive oil, and sprinkle a bit more salt. Roast for an additional 10 minutes.

Athena's Tzatziki (Yogurt Sauce)


  • 1 Quart Greek yogurt

  • 1 Large cucumber

  • 1 teaspoon OR 1 tablespoon finely minced fresh dill. (The quantity depends on how fragrant the dill is).

  • 1 Garlic clove, very finely minced

  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

  • Kosher salt and pepper to taste


Peel and shred the cucumber. Set in a colander with salt for 30 minutes to drain the water. Push down the cucumber to fully drain it.

Stir all ingredients into the Greek yogurt.

Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

Recipe keeps well for about 4 days.

Serve with Pita Bread


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